Florida is transitioning to a new voter registration process.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday mandating a statewide online voter registration system to be in place by 2017.
The bill, SB 228, establishes an online system created by the Division of Elections for the Department of State. Citizens can input their voter information applications electronically into a secure database. The option of paper registration is still available.
“We are really pleased to see that the governor has gone ahead and signed this bill,” said Pam Carpenter, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections. “I think it is going to be a real step forward for the citizens of Alachua County and the state of Florida. It’s another vehicle for the citizens to use to make registering a simpler process.”
Carpenter explained that the information would be verified by the citizen’s last four digits of their social security number or through a record comparison with the Division of Motor Vehicles.
“This system is going to be better because the people who are filling out the information will be filling out their own information so there will be fewer errors,” Carpenter said.
“It also eliminates human error when we are trying to decipher handwriting so it should help us actually be more accurate.”
Gov. Scott signed the bill into law after it was approved by a vote of 109-9 in the Florida House 37-3 in the state Senate.
Kenneth Detzner, Florida Department of State Secretary, has voiced repeated opposition to an online voter registration application.
He said it would interfere with already ongoing efforts to revamp the state’s voter rolls and registration system.
Detzner must report to the Legislature by Jan. 1 on progress made toward implementing the system which must be in place by October 2017.
Detzner issued a statement stating he respects Gov. Scott’s and the Legislature’s decision. He said the Department of State will put forward all of its effort to ensure it is implemented safely and properly.
Twenty-one states have already implemented online voter registration systems. Five other states, including Florida, are taking steps to do so.